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Leonard Floyd’s fumble recovery for a touchdown against the Packers was the Bears’ first defensive touchdown since Week 3 of the 2014 season. Floyd sacked Aaron Rodgers, forced a fumble and recovered it on the same play. The rookie from Georgia had 3 1/2 sacks in the first half. (Matt Ludtke/AP)

Mark Potash: Analyzing the Bears at the break

SHARE Mark Potash: Analyzing the Bears at the break
SHARE Mark Potash: Analyzing the Bears at the break

The Bears’ bye falls exactly eight games into the season, the perfect time for the Sun-Times’ Bears beat writers — Adam L. Jahns, Patrick Finley and Mark Potash — to examine the highs and lows of their 2-6 performance and predict what will happen in the next eight games.

Here’s Mark Potash’s take:

I’m impressed by: Vic Fangio’s defense, which has made steady progress, with potential for growth in the second half with the return of nose tackle Eddie Goldman. The Bears are getting closer — in the first half of games, they are allowing 4.9 yards per play (fifth best in the NFL) and have allowed five touchdowns (tied for third). Leonard Floyd’s development — learning to play with his hands and not just his speed — is a good indicator.

I’m concerned about: Injuries. The Bears got healthier late in first half, but they have not been able to stay healthy at under John Fox. Eric Kush and Ted Larsen did well for Josh Sitton and Kyle Long, but overall the Bears don’t have the depth to withstand a lot of injuries.

They can turn their season around if: They learn how to consistently win the winnable games. The second half begins with the Buccaneers, Giants, Titans, 49ers and Lions. Even last year the Bears weren’t that far away — seven of their last eight losses were by a touchdown or less: three points in OT, three, two, six in OT, six, three and four. If the Bears build on their performance vs. the Vikings, they could go on a roll.

Jay Cutler will: Need some help in the second half. Cutler’s excellent return against the Vikings was aided by a strong running game. That allows him to pick his spots — like the 11-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery. If he has to make every single play, something is bound to go wrong.

John Fox has: Been very fortunate that the Cubs have dominated the attention of Chicago sports fans throughout the first half of the Bears season. But the free ride is over. The Bears will be under much more scrutiny in the second half and they’ll need to build on the momentum of the victory over the Vikings or incur the wrath of a fandom that has the bar set higher than after after the Cubs finally won the World Series.

Second-half record: 4-4. Just like last season, the Bears have a lot of winnable games in the second half. They’re in better shape to win those this year than last. But injuries are a huge X-factor.

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